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From Babies to Small Children: The Importance of Reading Exposure

From Babies to Small Children: The Importance of Reading Exposure

Children as young as 6 months old greatly benefit from being read to. You may not realize your baby is taking it all in as you talk about the pictures on each page, turn each page as they sit in your lap, and read the text to them, but they undeniably are soaking it all in. This is, in fact, a critical stage in your child’s reading development.

The Emergent Pre-Reading Stage

As the child is within the stage of emergent pre-reading (typically from ages 6 months to 6 years), he will listen intently to all of the multiple sounds you make, the words, descriptions of images, concepts of the book and print, and chatter from you. This is a highly critical stage, and more important than many parents of babies realize. Exposure to books and talking through the books effectively sets the stage for his future literacy. This can help your children develop the love for reading.

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This is all that needs to be accomplished in this stage, as up to the ages of 4-5 years old, in many children, studies point to the fact that the teaching of actual reading is too early. Granted, there is a small percentage that may begin reading pre-kindergarten, but this is a very small percentage. Exposure is the key in this stage. With daily exposure to print and language from the parent or caregiver, the end of this time in the child’s life will consist of the child “pretend” reading, which is when a child looks at the pictures within a book and retells the story in his own words. He also may be able to answer questions about the book when read to, ask questions he is curious about, or even point to specific words in a book and know what they are. This is usually done with a book that they have been very much exposed to in repeated readings.

The Beginning Reader Stage

In this stage, patience is very essential. All children learn to read at very different rates. Although each stage is variably consistent within the age levels, it is important to understand that each child is unique and will learn at his own pace. Our society has put a lot of pressure on children learning to read very early, sometimes too early, when in fact, they may not be developmentally ready. You must understand different stages of development.

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This stage is an amazing stage. Your child will amaze you with their growing knowledge of literacy. Exposing him to pictures and vocabulary will enrich his ability to connect spoken words to print.  In addition to pictures and vocabulary acquisition, teaching them how to listen for phonemes, or specific sounds in each word, is as significant as learning the alphabet. In addition to familiarizing him with the alphabet letters and sounds, simultaneously focusing on his listening of each distinct phoneme in words will aid him in putting it all together. For example, teaching him that the beginning sound in the word “dog” is not the letter “d”, but the sound that a “d” makes. The individual sound is just as important as identifying the letter.

Typically, children are taught to recognize the first sound they hear within words. The beginning sound is then followed by teaching them to listen for the ending sound of words. The medial vowel, or middle sound, is usually the last sound they really connect to a letter. This is why you see many very beginning writing by 5-year-olds with the beginning letter and ending letter, such as the word “dog” may be “spelled” d-g, leaving out the letter “o”.

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Incorporating the meaning of stories as well as basic phonics, or appropriate letters of each word, is equally important in learning to read. In these beginning stages of literacy, building a strong foundation is directly related to successful literacy later on. With a strong foundation from the emergent and beginning stages of reading, the child will move forward in their literacy with the guidance of his parents, caregiver, and school teacher.

Featured photo credit: jutheanh via pixabay.com

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Beth Hedrick

Freelance Writer

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Published on November 7, 2018

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

In 2016, it was estimated that 1.7 million children were being homeschooled in the U.S, roughly 3.3% of all school-aged children.[1] Although this may not sound like a big portion of the population, the growth rate of homeschooling has been 7 to15% per year for the last two decades.

The burgeoning numbers are not a coincidence. There are tremendous benefits to homeschooling, including one-on-one teaching, adaptability to individual needs and learning styles, a safe learning environment, encouraging learning for knowledge rather than grades, and tailoring a curriculum to the child’s interests.

Is homeschooling something that you have been considering for your family? With all of the tools and resources available for homeschoolers in the 21st century, it may be easier than you think.

How to Homeschool (Getting Started)

After thinking it through, you’ve decided that homeschooling is the right step for you and your family. Now what? Here are the first things you should do to get your homeschooling journey started on the right track.

Figure Out the Laws

Homeschooling is regulated by the state, not the federal government. The first step is to find the current and accurate legal requirements mandated by your state in order to educate your child legally.[2]

The regulations can vary widely, from strict guidelines to no guidelines at all. However, don’t be overwhelmed by the legal jargon. There are many resources and local communities for homeschooling families that can help you figure out the logistics.

Decide on an Approach

Every child’s needs are different. This is your chance to choose the homeschooling style or combination of styles that best fits your child’s learning style and interests. A brief description of seven different homeschooling methods are listed below.

Supplies/Resources

Often times, purchasing a homeschooling curriculum is done too early in the planning process, resulting in buyer’s remorse.

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A curriculum is not always needed for homeschooling, and other types of free or less structured resources are readily available.

Find a Community

Getting connected with a community of homeschoolers is one of the most important parts of building a successful and thriving homeschool environment for your kids.

Look for communities online for virtual support or a local group that you and your kids can interact with. Partnering with others fosters better socialization skills for the students and provides opportunities for field trips, classes, and outings that wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of the homeschooling experience.

7 Different Homeschooling Methods

1. School-At-Home

Also known as Traditional homeschool, School-At-Home uses essentially the same curriculum as the local private or public school but at home.

The lessons can be completed independently, but more commonly, they are administered by a parent or a teacher-facilitated online school.

  • Benefits: formal standards, wide selection of curricula, same pace as peers, short-term friendly
  • Drawbacks: expensive, inflexible, time consuming, parent can get easily burnt out
  • Resources: K12, Time4Learning, Abeka

2. Classical

One of the most popular homeschooling methods used, it borrows educational practices from Ancient Greece and Rome. Subject areas are studied chronologically so that students can understand the consequence of ideas over time.

Socratic dialogue fosters effective discussions and debate to achieve beyond mere comprehension. There is often a strong emphasis on Great Books[3] as well as Greek and Latin.

3. Unit Studies

Rather than breaking up education into subjects, unit studies approach each topic as a whole, studying it from the perspective of each subject area.

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For example, a unit study about animals could include reading books about animals, learning about the classification of animals, figuring out which animals live on which continents, etc. This method is often used as a technique in other more comprehensive educational methodologies.

  • Benefits: promotes thinking about concepts as a whole, not monotonous or redundant, student-directed, bolsters weaker subject areas, beneficial for teaching multi-age students
  • Drawbacks: incomplete, knowledge gaps, curriculum-dependent
  • Resources: Unit Study, Unit Studies, Unit Studies Made Easy, Konos

4. Charlotte Mason

This Christian homeschooling style utilizes shorts periods of study (15-20 minute max for elementary, 45 minute max for high school), along with nature walks and history portfolios.

Students are encouraged to practice observation, memorization, and narration often. With a focus on “living books” (stories with heroes, life lessons, socio-ethical implications), reading plays a big role in this student-paced teaching style.

5. Montessori

Maria Montessori developed this method through working with special needs children in the early 20th century.

With a primary focus on the student setting the pace and indirect instruction from the teacher, this approach includes free movement, large unstructured time blocks (up to 3 hours), multi-grade classes, and individualized learning plans based on interests.

6. Unschooling

Unschooling is a learning model largely based on the work of John Holt.[4] The teaching style focuses mainly on the students’ interests, putting priority on experiential, activity-based, and learn as you go approaches.

For basic skills such as reading, writing, and math, a systematic technique is employed, but testing and evaluations are typically not utilized. Teachers, in general, play more of a facilitator role.

7. Eclectic/Relaxed

As the most popular method of homeschool, eclectic homeschooling is child-directed, resourceful, and non-curriculum based.

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Parents can sample any combination of homeschooling methods and styles or resources. One growing sector of eclectic homeschooling combines part homeschooling with part traditional schooling.

How to Facilitate Homeschooling with Technology

One of the reasons homeschooling is more feasible than ever before is due to the accessibility of tools and resources to enhance the learning process.

Email

Email is a tool that has really stood the test of time. Invented in 1972, it is still used today as a primary means of communicating on the Internet.

It is a great way to share assignments, links, and videos between parent and student.

Google Drive/Calendar

Google Drive offers a multitude of essential programs that can come in handy for homeschoolers, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

With its sharing capabilities, easy accessibility, and auto-save ability, it’s easier than ever to organize and complete assignments. It will improve students’ writing and typing skills, as well as eliminate the need for paper.

Google Calendar is an excellent tool for tracking assignment due dates, planning field trips and activities, and developing time management skills.

Ebooks

Rather than invest in physical copies of books, ebooks are a wonderful option for saving money and space. There are plenty of places that offer a free or paid subscription to a wide selection of ebooks:

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E-Courses

When a structured curriculum is necessary for teaching a certain topic, an e-course is the way to go.

From watercolors to calculus, there are e-courses available about almost everything. Including different teaching styles that vary from the parents will encourage students to learn in different ways.

The visual and auditory stimulation will also be beneficial in helping students understand and retain the concepts being taught.

Some recommendations:

Youtube

Youtube is not just a platform for music videos and cats doing funny things. There are a number of Youtube channels that produce quality educational videos, free of charge.

Creating a playlist of videos for various topics is a great way to supplement a homeschool education.

Some recommendations:

Final Thoughts

Homeschooling in the current age looks much different than it did ten years ago. There are more options and more flexibility when it comes to educating kids at home.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of homeschooling your children if it could make a positive impact on your family.

Featured photo credit: Hal Gatewood via unsplash.com

Reference

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